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As mentioned in above posts, cedar is the best wood for shoe trees. The reason for this is cedar will absorb moisture. Other woods are lacquered. The lacquer repels moisture back into the lining of the shoe. This can eventually cause deterioration of the leather.
 

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I'm going to go counter to the usual wisdom here and say that shoe trees serve the same purpose as a woman's hair curlers: to hold the "set" of the shoe (or hair) as it dries. As a wood worker, I find it hard to believe that shoe trees absorb any significant amount of moisture from the shoe, whether they're finished or not, or even whether they're made of wood or plastic.
As a wood worker, you know cedar is more absorbent. That's the point.
 

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But if it absorbed moisture readily, wouldn't it dry more slowly? Am I missing something here?

Somebody correct me if I'm mistaken, but don't the finest cordwainers in the world like John Lobb St. James still use varnished hardwood for their trees? Doesn't that tell us something?

Mind you, all my "good" shoe trees are in fact Woodlore (i.e., red cedar) products. I obviously have nothing against them if I have 47 pairs. However, I just don't like ascribing imaginary virtues to any product.
With all due respect, why not ask Woodlore why they use cedar and post their response.
 
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